Little Grey Rabbit's Historical Skepticism Blog

Correction Corner: Ian Bell of the Herald Scotland on Armenia, Hitler quotes and Churchill

Posted in Correction Corner, Miscellanous by littlegreyrabbit on March 17, 2011

I am firmly of the opinion that journalists, taken as a whole, are both honest and well-informed.  Alas, the ones that are honest are seldom well-informed and the ones that are well-informed are never honest.  A rarity is a journalist like Ian Bell of the Herald, who combines a lack or honesty with a surprising level of general ignorance.  Normally I would not bother correcting such a low profile individual, since there aren’t enough hours in the day to correct foolish statements by journalists, but Mr Bell managed to cram enough errors into this post and then refused to allow polite corrections to stand to make an exception in this case.

My interest was directed to Mr Bell and his journalism/blog by a slight interest I have in police corruption surrounding the Lockerbie investigation.  The Pan Am flight was allegedly brought down by explosives hidden in a radio cassette, using an MST-13 timer constructed in Switzlerland and sold to the Libyans, and wrapt in clothing purchased in Malta from the store of Tony Gauci.  Every one of these strands of evidence can be shown to have been deliberately fabricated by elements within the British investigation.  Tony Gauci made numerous errors in identification and his evidence was widely believed in Malta to have been that of a perjurer;  with the benefit of some 3 million dollars from the US Government the Gauci brothers have started a new life in Australia [1].  The manual of the radio cassette that supposedly contained the explosives, which was found intact by a Mrs Horton, was ripped and damaged in police custody to appear like it had been through an explosion:

Zeist Court Transcripts

“Q Right. I wonder if you would look, please, at Label 24. You’ll see there is a bag which contains items there. Do you recognise anything?

A Well, not in its present state. I’m sure when I handed it in, it was in one piece.

The MST-13 timer itself was stated by the manufacturers, MEBO telecommunications, to be a falsification and not a genuine, functioning timer.  In 2007, former employee Ulrich Lumpert, stated in an affidavit that he had given false testimony at Zeist and that in fact he had stolen a prototype MST-13 circuit board and given it to an “investigating official”. [2] In short, the entire “forensics” of the Lockerbie case was a conscious and deliberate fabrication from start to finish.  That the MST-13 timer, wrapt in Tony Gauci’s clothing, was only found many weeks after the downing of the plane also points to investigator misconduct [officially it was found on 13 January 1989, although the first documented reference to it dates from May 1989].  Mebo directors also claimed that, like the Gauci brothers, they had been offered 4 million dollars to give false testimony.

There is further evidence to support the falsificaton and planting of the MST-13, for example this affidavit:

A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

The retired officer – of assistant chief constable rank or higher – has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.

The police chief, whose identity has not yet been revealed, gave the statement to lawyers representing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in Greenock Prison.[3]

While I would have no theory of what did in fact bring down the Pan Am flight, it is worth noting that a few seconds before the explosion an unexplained radar signal turned up in close proximity to the aircraft.  As the Air Accidents Investigation Report described it:

Recorded radar information on the aircraft was available from from [sic] 4 radar sites. Initial analysis consisted of viewing the recorded information as it was shown to the controller on the radar screen, from this it was clear that the flight had progressed in a normal manner until Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) was lost. There was a single primary return received by both Great Dun Fell and Claxby radars approximately 16 seconds before SSR returns were lost. The Lowther Hill and St Annes radars did not see this return. The Great Dun Fell radar recording was watched for 1 hour both before and after this single return  for any signes of other spurious [sic!!!!] returns, but none was seen. The return was only present for one paint [sic] and no other explanation can be offered for its presence [Appendix page C-11]

Lockerbie Air Accident Investigation: Anomalous Radar Return

I have always been amazed at the rapidity which which the plane is supposed to have disintegrated.  As for the radar return, my only suggestion is that it was probably Al-Megrahi on his broomstick chasing the Pan Am flight, waving the samsonite suitcase and crying “You forgot this!”

The connection with Ian Bell may not be obvious, but since the evidence towards police misconduct is so consistent and overwhelming it requires some sophistication to maintain the cover-up.  One mechanism is having very vocal voices, who appear to loudly and passionate argue the Lockerbie conviction was unsafe, to covertly work to suppress or discredit key evidence, in this case the evidence of a number of directors and former employees of Mebo Telecommunications regarding the falsification of the MST-13 timer – this role seems to characterise Mr Bell quite well.  In fairness to Mr Bell, the small amount of time I spent reading his blog he seemed to be doing nothing more sinister that acting the role of Armchair Bombardier,  heroically advocating the fighting of Gaddaffi to the last drop of Libyan blood.

Nevertheless, I have taken the time to correct 3 of his errors.

Error 1 : When the Ottoman Empire was done slaughtering 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, the word genocide was coined.

This is the most glaring error, as it is well known that the word genocide was coined by 1943 or 1944 by the Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe – dealing, as the title suggests, with perceived deficiencies in the German domination of Europe at that time.  Mr Bell riposted that ‘that the “events” in Armenia were uppermost in his [Lemkin’s] mind from beginning to end.’  While that may have been the case, Mr Lemkin was careful to conceal the extent his constant thoughts of Armenia in his published works on International Law from 1933 – 1945, as searches of his publications show that the words “Ottoman”, “Turks” or “Armenians” do not appear in his Les actes constituant un danger general (interetatique) consideres comme delites des droit des gens of 1933, nor in his Axis Rule in Occupied Europe of 1944, nor in his article Genocide – A Modern Crime published in The Free World in 1945.  It is true that from 1946 onwards Mr Lemkin did number the Armenians in lists that include such things as the Albigensian crusades, nonetheless I think the orginal statement can be fairly classed as a howler [4].

Error 2: When Hitler embarked on his project he said, famously, “Who remembers the Armenians?”‘

This claim is so common, that one could be a bit more charitable towards Mr Bell for repeating it.  However the fact remains this quote can only be traced to a single and highly unreliable source.  The issue has been best discussed by the academic, Heath Lowry, which can be read here [5].  Although a professor at Princeton University, Heath Lowry has been accused of being an Armenian genocide denier, however I have never seen any serious attempt to refute what he set out in some detail regarding the genesis of this quote.   To give a summary, the Armenian quote first appeared in a book by Associated Press journalist Louis P Lochner in 1942, who had been provided with a 3 page summary of a speech given by Hitler to his Generals on 22 of August 1942[Nuremberg Document L-3].  However,  authentic records of this 22 August speech turned up after the war [Nuremberg Documents 798-PS and 1014-PS], and while there were points of similarity between the two versions suggesting that Lochner’s version was based on the notes of someone who had indeed been present, the points of difference were far wider.  The early historian of the Third Reich, William Shierer, refused to use the Lochner version stating that “it may have been embellished a little by persons who were not present at the meeting at the Berghof.” [5]  It appears likely that Lochner’s version was leaked to him with the cooperation of General Beck, who was by then a leader of Wehrmacht resistance to Hitler.  Whether General Beck also embellished the document or if that was someone else in the transmission chain is not clear.  I have uploaded the various accounts of the August 22 speech; the Lochner version and the authentic versions and leave it up to the reader to make their own mind.  Professor Lowry gives numerous examples of quite absurd content in the Lochner version.  I will just pick out three.  In the authentic version we read:

Rumania did not grow stronger. She is liable to attack and vulnerable. She is threatened by Hungary and Bulgaria. Since Kemal’s death, Turkey has been ruled by small minds, unsteady, weak men. [6]

In the Lochner version (perhaps trying to undermine German alliances) we read:

The small countries do not frighten me. After Kemal’s death, Turkey will be ruled by morons and half-idiots. Carol of Rumania is a thoroughly corrupted slave of his sexual desires.[7]

In the Lochner version:

The invasion and the extermination of Poland begins on Saturday morning. I will have a few companies in Polish uniform attack in Upper Silesia or in the Protectorate. Whether the world believes it doesn’t mean a damn to me. The world believes only in success.[7]

The authentic versions:

New German frontier according to healthy principles. Possibly a protectorate as a buffer. Military operations shall not be influenced by these reflections. Complete destruction of Poland is the military aim. To be fast is the main thing. Pursuit until complete elimination.  Conviction that the German Wehrmacht is up to the requirements. The start shall be ordered, probably by Saturday morning. [8]

Finally, my personal favorite.  The authetic versions:

Goering answers with thanks to the Fuehrer and the assurance that the armed forces will do their duty. [6]

The Lochner version:

The speech was listened to enthusiastically. Goering jumped on the table. Bloodthirsty thanks and bloody promises. He danced around like a savage. The few doubtful ones remained silent. [7]

Much as I personally enjoy the thought of Goering dancing on the tabletop, this is obviously an entirely unreliable source and as the sole source of the Armenian quote, which is not confirmed by other records of this speech, the authenticity of “Who remembers the Armenians” is highly questionable.

Error 3: [On Nuremberg] ‘Their only real virtue in terms of process was the likely al­ternative: Stalin (and Churchill was also tempted) would have shot the scum out of hand.’

This is a common error, yet the record quite ambiguously shows that while indeed Churchill was tempted (or more than tempted) by the idea of summary executions on capture, Josef Stalin was firmly and consistently in favour of trials – doubtless having an excellent experience of the political benefits that could accrue from such publich spectacles.  In fact, the first trials were run as far back as 1943 when the Soviets put captured German officers on trial for alleged crimes in Kharkov and Krasnodar; trials that were extensively reported in Western newspapers, although admittedly to mixed notices.  For example, Arthur Koestler later observed:

The method of gross oversimplification in Soviet domestic propaganda resulted in the tradition that an accused in a political trial had to admit his alleged crimes freely and voluntarily, and once this tradition had become established there was no going back. Hence the strange phenomenon in the 1943 Char’kov trial of German war criminals, where the accused German officers were made to behave like characters out of a story by Dostoyevsky. […] To a foreign observer, the Char’kov Trial (which was filmed, and screened publicly in London) seemed as surreal as the show trials of Moscow, since the accused gave their statements in pompous phraseology they had obviously memorized, and sometimes digressed into the wrong role, that of prosecutor, before returning to their starting point.“[9]

Winston Churchill, by contrast, always favoured keeping the option of summary executions open only to be blocked by Josef Stalin.  In October 1944, immediately after a meeting in Moscow he wrote:

‘U.J. [Uncle Joe – Joseph Stalin] took an unexpectedly ultra-respectable line. There must be no executions without trial otherwise the world would say we were afraid to try them. I pointed out the difficulties in International Law but he replied [that] if there were no trials there must be no death-sentences, only life-long confinements.’[10]

A similiar sentiment expressing frustration at Stalin’s intransigence towards summary executions was expressed by Lord Simon on 26 January, 1945:

‘Punishment of Hitler and his Chief Associates…. I am still of opinion that the best course of the Allies would be to treat the punishment of Hitler, Mussolini and their principal colleagues and associates as a political matter and not to have recourse to judicial forms….I have gathered that Marshal Stalin did not agree but preferred the method of trial – no doubt on the Soviet model’[10]

Although officially shelved, there is some suggestion that the idea of summary executions were to remain attractive to the British.  As Churchill told the Commons on May 16, 1945 when asked about the whereabouts of Himmler:

I expect he will turn up somewhere in this world or the next, and will be dealt with by the appropriate local authorities.  The latter of them would be the more convenient to His Majesty’s Government [11]

Sure enough, after this “Who shall rid me of this troublesome Reichsfuehrer” statement, on the 21 of May Himmler was captured and as soon dispatched to the next world by a cyanide capsule that also mysteriously managed to break Himmler’s nose.

If Himmler's nose had been less broken, the entire history of the world...

Such is the angle of Himmler’s nose, it is impossible to imagine he did not meet at least some violence towards his end [12].  It is a curious fact that suicide by cyanide capsule only seems to have been feature of Germans captured by the British or Americans;  Soviet captured Germans appeared to prefer to use a pistol or not commit suicide at all, (with perhaps the one notable exception of Adolf Hitler according to a Soviet autopsy “found” in the late 60’s and claimed that Hitler had also taken cyanide; an autopsy which also appeared to demonstrate that, like the old song claimed, Hitler really did only have one ball.  Recently the skull the Soviets believed to have been Hitler’s was found to have had no balls at all, being a female specimen [13]).   Even more puzzling, Dr Leo Alexander Chief Medical Officer at Nuremberg and later Chief Prosecutor at the Doctors Trial, claimed in 1949 that these cyanide capsules had been developed by favorite hate figure, Dr Sigismund Rascher:

At the Dachau concentration camp Dr. Rascher developed the standard cyanide capsules, which could be easily bitten through, either deliberately or accidentally, if mixed with certain foods, and which, ironically enough, later became the means with which Himmler and Goering killed themselves.[14]

Dr Rascher was undoubtedly a quack scientist as I in part show here, but his downfall, which came in April 1944, is most likely to have been a result of his helping prisoners of high political value to escape.  Quite why the Nazi leadership should have been investing in cyanide capsules over a year before the final defeat of Germany and used a person without any skill in manufacturing pharmaceutical delivery systems is unexplained.  Nor is it explained how Dr Rascher knew to only distribute such capsules to those who would fall into the hands of the Western Allies rather than the Soviets.  In other words, “cyanide capsule” looks suspiciously like the British euphenism for “sonderbehandelt.”

Another high value prisoner who is supposed to have committed suicide by cyanide capsule is Odilo Globocnik.

Suicide of Odilo Globocnik

Despondent fellow captives of Globocnik are photographed in the immediate aftermath of this alleged suicide.  In at least one biography of Globocnik one of the Germans present there said that on that same day, when Gauleiter Rainer was being uncooperative, one of the British officers asked him if he wanted to commit suicide like Globocnik.  A letter from one of only two German speaking British officers present, W.K. Hedley, adds this information:

We had noticed at the time that he refused any form of food or drink. Captain M.M. Leigh RAMC, the Regimental Medical Officer, was quickly on the scene and he gave Globocnik two inoculations in the arm and one in the heart, but to no avail.[15]

Sounds strikingly similar to the alleged modus operandi of Josef Klehr et al.


The farce of Ian Bell continues.  Instead of just politely saying “Golly, I was wrong.  At least on Lemkin and Stalin’s attitude to trials” was just to difficult and instead he believes his dignity is enhanced by throwing out empty threats.

Ian Bell becomes tired and emotional
Martin Morrison said…

You’ll find my contact details amongst your followers. I wouldn’t normally ask this but, in these parts, rabbits, however cute they may be, are considered a pest (they are good in a curry, mind) and get shot for sport. ‘twould be handy to know what subspecies we’re dealing with, what its habits are and where the entrances to his warren might be. The ferrets are hungry.

Scratch an Armchair Bombardier and you will find a Totalitarian Liberal as often as not.




[3] CIA planted tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people by Marcello Mega. The Scotsman – 2006-08-28.

[4]  See the writings of Raphael Lemkin here

[5] Professor Heath W Lowry. The US Congress and Adolf Hitler on the Armenians. Political Communication and Persuasion, Volume 3, Number 2 (1985).

[6] Nuremberg Document 798-PS

[7] Nuremberg Document L-3

[8] Nuremberg Document 1014-PS

[9] Arthur Koestler, The Yogi and the Commissar

[10] quoted in Nuremberg: The Last Battle, by David Irving

[11] Churchill Sure Himmler Faces a Glowing Future, The New York Times, May 17, 1945

[12] At least according to the photo downloaded from the site

[14] New England Journal of Medicine, July 14 1949, Dr Leo Alexander.  Medical Science Under the Dictators

[15] 1949 Letter of WK Hedley.

[13] In a perfect example of the Soviet left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing; while Soviet pathologists were busy fabricating autopsy reports, Stalin himself remained convinced that Hitler had not died in Berlin.  According to “CIA Historian” Bernard Fischer:

Above all, the brutal interrogation of witnesses demonstrated how obsessed Stalin was with finding proof that Hitler might be alive. Smersh detained some 800 (!) persons, and 21 of 35 key witnesses were arrested and interrogated in Berlin and Moscow–often repeatedly and brutally. Some of the witnesses were imprisoned for 10 years or more on trumped up war crimes charges. The Soviets went to great lengths to locate Hitler’s relatives. They even arrested his half-sister, a simple Austrian peasant woman whom Hitler had last seen in 1907, as well as her husband and a half-brother Hitler had never even laid eyes on. The focus of the endless interrogations, which filled tens of thousands of pages, was to prove that Hitler could have survived and that the people he spent his last days with had engaged in a systematic deception to convince the world otherwise.
The Smershisti tried to beat confessions out of their prisoners. Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet, was stripped, tied down, and then beaten with whips as his German-speaking interrogators shouted: “Hitler is alive! Hitler is alive!” Two other key witnesses, Hitler’s SS adjutant Otto Günsche, and the Führer’s personal pilot, Hans Baur, reported similar experiences after returning home in 1956. In Baur’s case, interrogators spent hours trying to force him to admit that it had been possible for Hitler to fly out of the Berlin inferno. Witnesses were forced to write and rewrite their accounts of the final days in the bunker. The Soviets even partially reconstructed the bunker and, using mannequins, had witnesses reenact Hitler’s and Eva Braun’s suicides. Tables and charts were used to plot testimonies against one another in an effort to identify inconsistencies as well as corroborating information.

One Response

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  1. John Ford said, on October 26, 2011 at 6:32 am

    What a fantastic page to trip over. I do get frustrated with Ian Bells inaccuracies and crap he does write some times. This particularly relates to Nuclear, CCS and Wind. He does like blowing a lot of hot wind from his arse.

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